197 Marlborough was designed by architect J. Lyman Faxon and built in 1891-1892 by H. McLaughlin, builder, as the home of Frederick T. Bradbury and his wife Harriet J. (White) Bradbury. They previously had lived at 103 Pembroke. Harriet J. Bradbury is shown as the owner of 197 Marlborough on the original building permit application, dated October 31, 1891, and on the final building inspection report, dated December 10, 1892 (she is erroneously referred to as Harriet J. Bradley on both documents).
Harriet Bradbury purchased the land for 197 Marlborough on June 2, 1891, from real estate investor George H. Brooks. He and his wife, Sarah (Smith) Brooks, lived at 130 Commonwealth. He had acquired the land on April 16, 1891, from paper manufacturer and former attorney Samuel Dennis Warren, Jr., part of a larger lot extending west to Exeter Street he purchased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on June 25, 1888. Samuel Warren and his wife, Mabel (Bayard) Warren, lived at 174 Marlborough.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 197 Marlborough.
Frederick Bradbury was teller of the Provident Institution for Savings. In 1907, he retired from banking to become treasurer of the Potter Drug and Chemical Company (manufacturers of Cuticura soap), of which his brother-in-law, George Robert White, was the managing partner.
George R. White lived with the Bradburys. He also had lived with them at 103 Pembroke. He also maintained a home, Lilliothea, at Smith’s Point in Manchester. In addition to being managing partner of the Potter Drug and Chemical Company, he also was a real estate investor and a major benefactor of the Museum of Fine Arts and other Boston institutions. In 1910, he purchased the bronze statue, Bacchante, by Frederick Macmonnies, from the Yerkes Estate in New York City and later donated it (on permanent loan) to the MFA. The statue had been commissioned by architect Charles F. McKim in 1897 and donated to the Boston Public Library (designed by McKim, Mead, and White), but the public furor over the “indecency” of the statue resulted in McKim’s withdrawing the donation. At the time of his death in 1922, George White was described as the city’s largest individual taxpayer; in his will, he left the City of Boston $7 million for “works of public utility and beauty.”
The Bradburys and George White continued to live at 197 Marlborough until 1903, when they moved to a new home the Bradburys had built at 285 Commonwealth.
On March 19, 1903, 197 Marlborough was purchased from the Bradburys by Laurence Curtis. He previously had lived at 179 Marlborough with his brother and sister-in-law, Horatio Greenough Curtis and Annie (Nelson) Curtis. He also maintained a home in Nahant.
Laurence Curtis was a stockbroker and investment banker. An avid golfer, he founded the United States Golf Association in 1894. He never married.
Laurence Curtis continued to live at 197 Marlborough until his death in April of 1931. In his will, he left 197 Marlborough to his two nephews, Louis Curtis and Laurence Curtis, the sons of his twin brother, Louis, who had died one month before him.
By the 1931-1932 winter season, 197 Marlborough was the home of Mrs. Louise (McNamara) Otis, widow of Harrison Gray Otis, and their three adult children: Harrison Gray Otis, Jr., William Allyne Otis, and Margaret Otis. Louise and Margaret Otis previously had lived in France; Harrison Gray Otis, Jr., had lived at 91 Charles, and William Otis had lived at 33 Beaver Place.
Louise Otis first leased 197 Marlborough from Louis and Laurence Curtis. On May 20, 1937, it was purchased from them by the estate of her late husband.
Margaret Otis married in December of 1936 to Nelson S. Odman. After their marriage, they lived in Manchester.
Harrison Gray Otis, a real estate broker, married in November of 1943 to Pauline (Smyth) Fraser-Campbell, the former wife of Arnold Fraser-Campbell. After their marriage, they lived at 197 Marlborough with his mother and brother until about 1946, but had moved to 99 Revere by 1947.
William Otis married in December of 1947 to Alice (Merriam) Dale, the former wife of Frank Knight Dale, and they moved to 2 Otis Place. William Otis had been a real estate broker and bond broker; he owned the barber shop at the Ritz Carlton Hotel from the 1930s to the 1960s.
197 Marlborough continued to be owned by the estate of Harrison Gray Otis. Louise Otis lived there until about 1948, but moved soon thereafter.
In 1949, 197 Marlborough was the home of Emile P. Coulon and his wife, Mary Julia (Bradham) Coulon. He was owner and general manager of the Hotel Vendôme, where they previously had lived and moved again by 1950.
On January 31, 1950, 197 Marlborough was purchased from the estate of Harrison Gray Otis by Albert Rosenblatt and his wife, Esta (Miller) Roseblatt. He was a wholesale plate glass distributor. They lived in Manchester, New Hampshire, at the time they purchased the house but moved soon thereafter to Boston.
On May 4, 1950, they applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house.
On August 30, 1950, 197 Marlborough was acquired from the Rosenblatts by Saul Bernhardt Levitan, a jeweler. He was recently divorced and previously had lived at 18 Commonwealth, which he continued to own.
197 Marlborough also as the home of Gunnar Axel Broms, a building maintenance engineer, and his wife, Signe Marie (Kristiansen) Broms. They previously had lived at 8 Herman.
In 1952, Saul Levitan married again, to Eleanore Helen (Hirsch) Mitnick, the former wife of Harold Mitnick. After their marriage they made 197 Marlborough their home. They continued to live there until his death in October of 1953. By 1954, Eleanore Levitan had moved to an apartment at 18 Commonwealth and the Broms had moved to Jamaica Plain.
Eleanore Levitan married again in 1954 to Philip Short.
On October 29, 1954, the estate of Saul Levitan transferred 197 Marlborough to Eleanore Short, and by 1955 she and her new husband had made it their home. On November 22, 1955, she transferred it into both her and Philip Short’s names.
On August 3, 1956, 197 Marlborough was acquired from Philip and Eleanore Short by Lee Dana Goodman, who operated it as a lodging house. He and his wife, Myra Davis (Gray) Goodman, lived in Newton.
The property subsequently changed hands, remaining a lodging house.
In April of 2015, 197 Marlborough was purchased by the 197 Marlborough Street LLC (Brendan M. Feeney, manager of record). After acquiring the house, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into two residential units. In April of 2016, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to change the occupancy to be a single family dwelling.